Coeur d’Alene sometimes makes it look easy, piling up lopsided wins, league championships and deep state playoff runs year after year.
It wasn’t easy Friday night, but the Vikings showed they can execute in a close game, holding off Post Falls 28-13 to capture another Inland Empire League 5A title, their seventh in the last nine seasons.
The Vikings (8-0) have a week off before facing a 5A playoff quarterfinal at home. Coeur d’Alene is chasing its fourth state title of the decade and first since 2013.
Post Falls (4-4), which claimed the North’s second seed and will stay home for a first-round playoff game next week, used a ball-control offense to keep the outcome in doubt until the final minutes.
“Winning league, you can’t take that for granted,” said Vikings coach Shawn Amos, whose squad won its two other IEL games by a combined 91 points. “That’s why you do all the summer stuff and camps, (and dedicate) all the time our kids and coaches are willing to invest.”
Time, at least in terms of ball possession, was on Post Falls’ side. The Trojans used short passes by Derek Pearse, physical running by Eli Gondo and numerous timely third- and fourth-down conversions to rally from a 12-0 halftime deficit.
Post Falls pulled within 18-13 on Gondo’s second touchdown run with 8 minutes, 11 seconds remaining. The Vikings responded with a time-consuming drive, capped by Gabe Nazemi’s 30-yard field goal. Their defense quickly got the ball back when Nate Burch and Ryan Linehan sacked Pearse on fourth down.
Shilo Morgan’s 15-yard touchdown run gave the Vikings a 15-point cushion with 1:40 left.
“Post Falls can play really fast if they want to,” Amos said. “They hit the brakes, but I thought our kids did a good job of staying composed, especially when it got close.”
Trojans coach Blaine Bennett’s game plan was to hog the ball and keep it away from Vikings quarterback Kale Edwards. Two long scoring drives in the second half left the potent CdA offense on the sideline.
On the first, punter Carson LaMastus improvised after fielding a bad snap and dashed 12 yards for a first down. Nine plays later, Post Falls capped off an 80-yard drive
“We did some good things, especially in that second half,” Bennett said. “I would have liked to get that last drive going and kept it interesting.”
Instead, the Vikings sealed the win by scoring nine points sandwiched around a key defensive stop. Edwards, also a hard-hitting safety, missed a few plays with a stinger but returned for CdA’s final two possessions.
“You’re rolling the dice, but without him on defense we’re not nearly as good either,” Amos said.
Edwards rushed for 83 yards – 67 on his first two attempts – and passed for 216 yards. Morgan rushed for 101 yards and three touchdowns. He had six receptions for 54 yards.
The Vikings seized momentum on their first possession, cruising 78 yards in five plays. CdA’s next series ended with a turnover, but the Vikings got the ball back one play later when Edwards picked off Pearse’s pass and returned it 25 yards to the Trojans’ 47.
The Vikings converted twice on fourth down, including Edwards going airborne to finish off a 2-yard scoring run, putting CdA on top 12-0 late in the first quarter.
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